Thursday, September 30

Where were we last week???

It's been quiet on the blog this past week; well, it's been pretty quiet in our lives too so we haven't had much to say. Here's a quick recap though: I've been putting in some extra hours at work lately so I've been taking a lot of naps and drinking lots of spiced tea (We've been getting so many great tea samples at work!), and Shawn's been busy cooking away and trying new recipes. Last week we bought some ground turkey and ground beef and he made turkey beef chili pepper burgers. Then he used the leftover meat to make fried meatballs two days later - yummy! Oh, and our friend Christine came to visit on Monday and pretty much made us dinner - pesto chicken caprese pasta - mmmm! It went down so fast we didn't even have time for pictures!

I've also been working on getting my homemade dog treat business up and going. Yes, you read that correctly, I make homemade organic dog treats! It started as something fun to do for my mom's dogs and friends' dogs, but I've started giving samples out to customers and their dogs love them too, so Bark Bites was born. There are no products for sale on the etsy page yet, but there will be soon! Right now though I'm focusing on getting a bunch of samples together to give out at work and to nearby pet shops, in hopes of getting the name out at least.

We don't have a printer, so I'm stamping and hand-printing each label. It takes some time, but the treats are handmade, so why shouldn't the labels be?

But back to people food! Did someone say... burgers?

How about those fried meatballs? Seriously, we're talking fried balls of beef. With some mashed potatoes, of course.

Oh, and did I mention the shell pasta covered in homemade pasta sauce and freshly grated parmesan?

Yeah. That's dinner in this house. But have you seen dessert?

I call these inside-out peanut butter cups - it's my take on Ashley from (neverhome)maker's peanut butter bites; the recipe caught my eye the other day so I went ahead and made some; I thought they were tasty on their own, but Shawn said they needed a little something extra, and the inside-out peanut butter cup was born! Next time, I'll make them with milk chocolate in the center; the dark chocolate was too overpowering for the peanut butter cookie. But they were still super tasty!

That's it for last week's recap!

Thursday, September 23

Super Chocolate Cookies

Shawn and I spent most of Monday in the kitchen. While he worked on a huge batch of pasta sauce I made a whole bunch of cookies!

Look at all that sauce! Some in the freezer, some in the fridge, and if you can't tell from the empty bowls on the right, some in our bellies too.

But back to cookies! First I baked off a batch of our favorite chocolate chip cookies and then got started on a batch of our other favorite cookies, super chocolatey cookie goodness... the ultimate chocolate cookie. And today, you are going to love me, because I'm about to share the recipe with you.

I've gotten into the habit of measuring out all my ingredients ahead of time. It's something I learned in my pastry-kitchen working days because we would work with some time-sensitive step-by-step recipes, so having all the ingredients ready and on-hand made it much easier. It's a good idea so that you're not shuffling around your kitchen looking for last minute ingredients, but measuring everything ahead of time certainly isn't necessary for every recipe. It does make for a nice picture though!

Double Chocolate Cookies

1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cups (packed) brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling (optional, but recommended!)

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl; whisk to blend.
In another bowl stir the chocolate and butter over a double boiler (picture below), until the mixture is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.
Beat sugar and eggs in another bowl until thick.
Add the chocolate mixture and vanilla extract and beat until combined.
Stir in flour mixture until combined.
Batter will be wet - chill batter until firm, at least an hour. If you plan on leaving it in there overnight, I suggest taking the batter out of the fridge about an hour before you intend to bake the cookies; it's too hard and unworkable otherwise.

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Drop batter by spoonfuls onto sheet pans, (or use a cookie scoop, like I do) spacing two inches apart. Sprinkle each with a pinch of flaky sea salt, if you’re using it.
Bake just until tops are dry and cracked but cookies are still soft to touch, about 12 to 15 minutes.
Cool on sheet pan then transfer to wire rack. (They taste 10x better once cooled!!! Trust me.)

You can buy a double boiler, but why waste your money when you can achieve the same thing with a bowl set over a pot of boiling water? You're just looking for indirect heat, people! In theory, you could melt it all down in a microwave too. But where's the fun in that?

This is what your chocolate and butter should look like once combined using whichever method you prefer.

Now beat those eggs and sugar! Add those other ingredients!

(I also added chocolate chunks to mine, because I'm indulgent like that)

By the way, THESE ARE SUPER DUPER MESSY!!! (Don't say I didn't warn you!)

Finally! Now the true test of patience begins.

Oh. My. Cookies.

Another happy baker shot! Might have to take one for all cookie recipes :)

Wednesday, September 22

Getting back into running

I first took an interest in running about two years ago; both my parents were training for various races at the time and would go out for a run together around 6:30am most days, so when I moved back home I started joining them in their morning runs. Just as I was starting to get excited about it and making some progress, I started a new job with weird hours. I was working 1pm - 11pm and the new hours made it difficult to get up at 6am to go running; I just didn't have it in me to go on a mere 5 hours of sleep to get a run in early in the morning, and I couldn't go out after work because I didn't have the gear to be out running in the dark. Excuses aside, it was easier to fit yoga into my schedule at the time, so I started taking classes nearby and just stopped running all together. For the next two years, yoga was my exercise of choice.

I recently began running again for a number of reasons...
  • I was tired of seeing all of my perfectly good running gear (-a few shirts, shorts, socks, and two pairs of hardly worn down sneakers) sitting around in the closet, unused.
  • The weather has definitely been a little more runner-friendly these past few weeks so the thought of taking to the sidewalks has been running through my mind frequently.
  • The final push though came when the yoga studio I was frequenting once a week shut its' doors at the end of August. Left without a place to practice I finally ventured onto the road for some physical and spiritual guidance.

Now, I work in the food service industry and am by no means sitting on my bum all day at a desk; I usually spend about 8 hours a day on my feet and I make a point to walk to/from work most days too (I only live .3 miles from work) and Shawn and I take walks around the neighborhood on a regular basis; so I am definitely not lacking in exercise. But I wouldn't mind getting a little workout on occasion.

Since the yoga studio closed I've had to adapt to doing my own yoga at home. I'm far too used to going to classes and not having to come up with my own sequences, so this is actually a push I need and am welcoming, but to get outside of our space a bit I've also decided to add a little running back into my weekly routine.

My first time out I set out on a 2-mile course and was able to run 3/4s of a mile before my endurance got the best of me. The past 2+ years of doing yoga must have made me pretty strong, because I never expected my breathing to give out before my muscles. But what my muscles had no trouble with that day, they certainly got the best of me the next. My legs were burning for almost a whole day after that first run!

But I gave it two days rest and then set back out again, this time on 1-mile course, of which I was able to run .8 before having to stop for breath. This time though, my legs felt no excrutiating pain afterwards. Ah, relief.

After chatting with my mother about working on pacing myself to get the most out of my endurance, I decided to take it a little slower. On my third run I set out on the same 1-mile course but I tried to find my stride and stay at a constant speed, and was actually able to run the full mile in just under thirteen minutes. Not a very fast time, but I ran the whole way!

I've run that 1-mile course a few more times now and am still amazed at how strong my muscles are - two years ago they would to be the first thing to flare up in pain when I would run, and now they give me no trouble at all! It just makes me feel even better about all that yoga that has kept me physically strong these past two years. Now I can focus on breathing steady and slowly building up speed.

Friday, September 10

simple animation time!

making mashed potatoes!

Wednesday, September 8

Just a quick post...

Haven't had much to say these days, Shawn and I haven't done anything too terribly exciting lately. We're still cooking bunches though! Here are a few things we've made recently:

Shawn made poblano and anaheim pepper burgers (sliders, actually) last week... they were amazing! Topped with onions and pepper jack cheese, mmm.

Breakfast for dinner! Scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, and pancakes.

Lots and lots of veggies. Purple potatoes with chili peppers, black beans and rice, and sliced bell peppers.

Peanut butter mousse and chocolate pie... our friend Christine made one for us last week and it's been on my mind ever since, so I buckled down and recreated it. Hers had a graham cracker crust but I had some pie dough to use up so that's what I used!

Then I topped it all off with some whole wheat sesame pretzel! Super tasty, and so easy to make. Thanks for the recipe, Christine!

I also made some granola last week; the kitchen smelled like ginger and coconut :)

I know that isn't food, but it's food related! My trip to TJ Maxx yesterday yielded a few good finds. Shawn's been complaining about my old and hard to read measuring spoons and cups, so when I stumbled upon the orange kitchenaid ones that so conveniently match the orange theme that's developed in our kitchen, I figured he wouldn't mind me spending just a little money. Then I found the white stacking bowls with lids and I thought about the green set we already have and how we're always saying we should get another set... and so I bought those too! Now we have brand spankin' new stuff to smile about, and it all cost less than $10! Hurray!

Have a splendiferous day!

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